When you have the employer calling and saying they want to schedule a phone interview with you, that means you look good on paper and they now want to see if you are all that you say you are.
The phone screening is a critical stage in the job search process because how well you communicate and perform will pave the way to the big opportunity of a meeting at their office with the decision makers.
In most instances, the phone screening is conducted by someone from HR. They’ll primarily review your professionalism and communication skills to see if you are articulate, knowledgeable and have the right experience and skills for the job. The ultimate mission is to screen out candidates so that the ones who are invited for an in-person meeting are the best in the bunch.
So here’s how you can ace the phone screening:
1. Watch your intonation and build rapport.
Your intonation and body language account for 90% of the effectiveness of your communications. If you are just on the phone with no video, your intonation is all you have so be enthusiastic and try to build rapport as people hire people they like.
At this point in the process, the screener is also looking to clear up any questions or hesitation they may have about you from reviewing your resume. Be aware of anything on your resume that may be a red flag and prepare to respond to it without coming off defensive. You want to be honest and address any concerns, but also know how to steer the response to something more positive that brings back the message of “This is what I have to offer that you need.”
2. Dress the part and talk the part.
Today’s phone interviews don’t necessary mean just voice. Many employers may request a video phone interview via Skype, so be prepared to not only talk the part, but dress the part, too. How you look and sound leaves an impression, just like it would from an in-person meeting. Express energy and enthusiasm in your tone.
3. Speak of accomplishments and success when asked about previous jobs and responsibilities.
Employers asking about your past experience aren’t looking for a description of your job. If you want to impress, you need to speak of accomplishments and success and how those experiences have prepared you to contribute and bring success to future employers. Do your research and talk to the need that the job posting highlights and then talk about how you’ve been there, done that, and can directly contribute to the employer’s needs.
4. Be prepared to handle the offbeat question.
Some phone screenings have standard questions directed towards your experience and skills, but there are also employers who may put you on the spot with a scenario to see how you react and respond. The important point is to not let these types of questions rattle or stump you. Keep a can-do attitude.
5. Be ready to talk about salary requirements.
You will be asked this to see if you are in their salary range. This can be tricky because if you present a number below what the employer has budgeted, you lose any chance of securing a higher salary that the employer may (or would) have considered. And if you present a number that is too high, the employer may decide to dismiss your application and resume even before you have had the chance to make your case in an interview.
There are two ways to handle this.
The first is just to ask them “What salary have you budgeted for this position?” and when they respond tell them that is in line with your expectations.
Another way to respond is by saying “Although the job and the challenge are most important to me, you should know that I am considering positions in the XX to YY range.”
Each employer will have a different method to screening applicants over the phone, but with these tips you’ll be prepared for whatever comes your way.
About the author
Don Goodman’s firm was rated as the #1 Resume Writing Service in 2013, 2014, and 2015. Don is a triple-certified, nationally recognized Expert Resume Writer, Career Management Coach and Job Search Strategist who has helped thousands of people secure their next job. Check out his Resume Writing Service. Get a Free Resume Evaluation.
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